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Bumping the fog line constitutes careless driving

Facts

In 2007, Tony Martin was pulled over for careless driving by Trooper Robert Hamblin on Mississippi Highway 314 in Lafayette County, Mississippi. Hamblin stopped Martin after observing Martin’s vehicle “kind of bump the fog line, went from the center line to the fog line.”

When questioning Martin during the traffic stop, Hamblin noticed the smell of alcohol emanating from Martin. He also noticed that Martin’s eyes were bloodshot. Martin admitted to Hamblin that he had consumed a couple of alcoholic beverages.

Hamblin administered the portable intoxilyzer twice, and after reading the results, he transported Martin to the Lafayette County Detention Center. Upon arrival, Hamblin administered the Intoxilyzer 8000 test, which provided a result of .08 percent blood-alcohol concentration.

Martin was found guilty of DUI, first offense, and sentenced to 48 hours. On appeal, he argued there was no probable cause for the stop. MCOA affirmed.

Analysis

Martin claims that he never left the pavement and never endangered himself or others while being observed by Hamblin. Further, Martin claims that no Mississippi statute makes it unlawful to cross the fog line on the type of highway upon which Martin was driving.

Mississippi Code Annotated section 63-3-1213 (Rev. 2004) states: “Any person who drives any vehicle in a careless or imprudent manner, without due regard for the width, grade, curves, corner, traffic and use of the streets and highways and all other attendant circumstances is guilty of careless driving.”

Martin’s “bumping” the fog line with his car constituted, in Hamblin’s opinion, a violation of this statute.

In Henderson, this court noted that carelessness is a matter of reasonable interpretation, based on a wide range of factors. Prior to the traffic stop in Henderson, the police officer observed the vehicle that Henderson was driving approach the curb twice. We found that such behavior indicated Henderson was driving without due regard for the width and use of the street; thus, we held that the officer’s observations were enough for him to determine that careless driving had taken place.

In Tran, this court cited Henderson and held that crossing the fog line constituted a reasonable basis for a traffic stop.

In Saucier, this court determined that failure to have regard for the width and use of the street by swerving off the side of the road or crossing the marker lines constituted probable cause for a traffic stop.

In our case, Hamblin testified that after observing Martin’s driving behavior, he pulled him over. Hamblin explained that Martin’s vehicle went from point A to point B and right back. He didn’t simply drift over to the fog line. Hamblin also testified that Martin actually crossed over the fog line, but he possessed no recollection of Martin’s driving off of the pavement. This constituted probable cause for the stop.

Martin additionally argues that Mississippi Highway 314 does not meet the definition of a “laned highway” under Mississippi Code Annotated sections 63-3-125 or 63-3-603 (Rev. 2004); thus, Martin claims no statute makes his driving behavior unlawful. However, Martin provides no evidentiary support or case law for his argument; therefore, his argument is procedurally barred for lack of relevant authority.

This court does, however, note that section 63-3-1213 refers to careless driving on “streets and highways,” not solely on “laned highways.”

 

https://courts.ms.gov/images/Opinions/CO65059.pdf